“Ladies and gentleman, can I have your attention? The captain has turned off the ‘fasten seatbelt’ sign, indicating that you are now free to move about the aircraft.”
Move about the aircraft? That hardly seems feasible. The man in front of me has reclined his seat, cramming my 6’3” frame into a position that makes me think I could qualify as an act for the Cirque du Soleil. The lady next to me has fallen asleep and somehow managed to place a good portion of her body weight onto my left side. Move about the aircraft? I hardly have room for my chest to make the slow rise and fall that is required to breathe the stale air that surrounds me.
My attention turns to my right, and the clouds outside the tiny window. We pass in-and-out of these clouds as we make our way across the Northwest, towards Missouri. We have departed from Washington State and will be crossing over some of the best land that the West has to offer.
I am passing by these lands at a rate of over five-hundred miles-per-hour, from over thirty-thousand feet in the sky. I can make out certain prominent features of the terrain, but what I cannot see from this perspective is the vast amount of wild game that inhabit these lands.
My mind wanders from the terrain, to the game, to the hunter.
These lands are much more than beautiful and bountiful; they are lands in which hunters that I know make their pursuit. I think of Dan, Dustin, Steve, Rob, Emily, and Tom. I think of the game that they pursue in Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and other western states.
I don’t hunt in all of these states, nor do I hunt every species live in them, but these lands are still something that I should care about. I shouldn’t care for these lands simply because I know folks that hunt them – although that does strengthen my resolve – I should care for these lands because it is for the good of hunting.
I have a deep conviction that hunters need to protect our lands, and also work with one another to protect all types of historical, ethical, fair chase hunting. Many hunters are only concerned with what happens on their hunting land and to the species that they enjoy hunting. Sadly, like I have thought that way, too.
It is critical that we learn to see beyond our own hunting.
We, as hunters, must begin to see the big picture. And not only see it, but work to protect it. One of the most frustrating experiences I have had with hunters has been the mindset that, “Issue X doesn’t apply to me directly, or present any harm to my way of hunting, therefore it doesn’t matter.”
That kind of thinking is reckless, and it presents a very real danger to the future of hunting.
I hope that you are a passionate and driven hunter. But even more than that, I hope that you realize that you – yes, YOU! – have a role to play in securing the future of hunting.
The lies are easy to believe. We can say that the problem is too big, or that the problem is too far removed from my back yard. We can think someone else will take care of the problem, or pretend that we didn’t know there was a problem to begin with. All would be lies.
The truth is that the problem is big. But we can each be a small part of the solution, and work together to ensure quality hunting for our next season, as well as for future generations.
The truth is that the problem may be hundreds, or even thousands of miles away, but if it is affecting hunting, then it should matter to all of us.
The truth is that, while someone else may be working on an issue, we all have a part to play.
The true is that we can’t afford to claim ignorance. We can’t afford to not pay attention. We must learn about what issues are facing hunting today. We owe it to ourselves, and we owe it to hunters everywhere.
Henry Ford once said,
“There are no big problems, there are just a lot of little problems.”
Before I buckle my seatbelt and prepare for landing, I have one question for you…
What little problem can you begin to help solve?